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Five Minutes With Rachel Barger, SAP North America

Originally authored by Aimee Feaver.

The NA News team spent five minutes with Rachel Barger, Regional Vice President, U.S. Procurement Sales, SAP North America.rachel-Hawaii.jpg

North America News: Success, Accountability, Professionalism, Integrity, Teamwork, Trust – Which SAP Passion means the most to you and why?

Rachel Barger: I’ve played sports forever, so it’s Teamwork for me. There’s nothing better than winning in a team. I became part of SAP through the Ariba acquisition and when we are involved in a deal with the line of business team and the generalist/industry team and receive great support from operations, and we win it knowing we couldn’t have done it on our own – there’s no better feeling. Sure, it’s painful to be up until midnight at the end of the quarter, but when that contract comes through and you’ve done it all as a team, it’s great to celebrate with a bunch of people.

NA News: How are you most innovative at work?

Rachel: I came into sales from outside of a traditional sales role; I was a consultant for many years before I became an account executive, and that perspective lets me be innovative in my work. Rather than solely focusing on value propositions and building business cases, I’m accustomed to pulling apart problems and finding root causes as a practitioner. This can help me bring a different perspective to my team when we’re trying to develop a compelling reason for change, or find a pain point.

My viewpoint on sales management is different, and I enjoy taking an alternative approach to things. Take sales forecast reporting as an example. Instead of only gathering typical information like the deal value or close date, I say let’s examine things like the case studies we are using, or what connections exist between our executives or customer references. Or hiring, even. Let’s bring people into the business from other areas, and hire different profiles to make the sales force more diverse. Let’s make generalists sales leaders, or encourage someone from our customer management organization to be a sales person.

NA News: Which non-family member has influenced you most and why?

Rachel: The manager I had when I was running a Services team in Australia for Ariba, and who I later followed back to the U.S. Before I decided to take the leap to move to Australia, I took a lot of safe avenues. But he really influenced the chances I took from that point on, like encouraging me to move into sales, or to get my MBA. Sometimes I’d get so mad when he was challenging me. But he recognized that I’m really competitive and would push the right buttons to get me thinking about what I was doing and how I could do better. In mentor roles, people can be too polite. Not him – in a good way! He forced me to take a hard look at my choices.


NA News: Tell us about your favorite childhood memory.

Rachel: When I was about 12 or 13 years old, my family went on a week-long road trip that started in Ocean City, Maryland. We worked our way up the northeast coast, stopping at beaches along the way. It was me and my younger sister (by eight years) in the back of this classic wood-paneled minivan with my dad driving; toys, pails and beach chairs piled in the back. I remember talking with my family and stopping every so often to look at different odd roadside attractions. I love the beach. It’s my favorite place to go and I hope to actually live there one day.

NA News: Stranded on a desert island, tell us the three books, movies or music you’d have with you and why.

Rachel Barger: The movie? Steel Magnolias. It’s such a great cast of different women. Even though it’s a bit sad at the end, it’s still a funny movie when you see it play out. Books would be anything from the Sue Grafton collection. It’s a whole detective series and you really get to know the characters. Perfect beach reading! And 10,000 Maniacs is the music I’d have, or anything with Natalie Merchant. When I’m relaxing and listening to music in the house, it’s usually something from the indie-folk genre.

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